Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones (left), and Minister of State in the Ministry, Patrick Todd, look on as students attending the Literacy Fair enjoy an activity in the Childrens’ corner.

Government’s commitment to education is unrelenting, and it makes no apologies for the large sums of money invested in this sector each year.

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, made this assertion today, at the opening of a Literacy Fair in Queen’s Park in celebration of International Literacy Day, 2009.

"We make no apologies for the large sums of money which we invest in education each year. In a world where there are still some 776 million adults who are illiterate and some 75 million children who are out of school, we are proud to say that we have free education, from nursery to tertiary levels and that our literacy rate is still among the highest in the world," he stated.

He, however, urged Barbadians to recognise the importance of Government’s investment, and to maximise on the educational opportunities provided. "The School Book Loan Scheme which provides books to all students at a very minimal rental fee at the secondary level, is not to be taken lightly. This costs the government millions of dollars.?? Parents and teachers need to ensure that these books are handled with the utmost care and treasured as tools to assist in the development of the lifelong skill of literacy.??

"The investment in our National Library Service is also one which should be valued and appreciated by Barbadians", Minister Jones opined.

Acknowledging that there was still some work to be done to develop literacy skills in Barbadians, Mr. Jones encouraged teachers to take a leading role in the campaign to raise the literacy rate in Barbados. "Classrooms should be structured to encourage students to be active and critical thinkers, responding to, and evaluating what they read.?? Assessment needs to be more authentic, so that students are forced to use literacy skills in real life contexts," he advised.

The Minister also highlighted the importance of the community in advocating for literacy and encouraged parents to re-introduce such old practices as reciting nursery rhymes, singing songs, telling stories and talking to children.??

The theme for International Literacy Day 2009 – 2010 is "Literacy and Empowerment."

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